Gerard Hoffnung was an artist, musician, broadcaster, raconteur
and genius. A true Renaissance Man, the multifaceted Hoffnung
crammed a great deal into his tragically short span. Using
much previously unreleased archive material, this audio biography,
presented by Humphrey Lyttelton, looks at every aspect of
his life and career. From his childhood in Berlin to his eventual
fame as a musician and cartoonist, Hoffnung's unique comic
vision shines through...
have to admit that I knew very little about the life of Gerard
Hoffnung before listening to this two-disc CD release. While
I was aware of his humorous cartoons and that he played the
tuba, I wasn't aware of what a true comic genius he was -
nor how painfully young he was when he left this earth.
Hoffnung was born in Berlin, Germany in 1925, the son of a
Jewish couple, Hilde and Ludwig Hoffnung. He moved, with his
mother, to Italy before war broke out and then to London in
1939. Over the years he was many things. He was an artist,
teacher, cartoonist, caricaturist, musician and tuba player,
broadcaster and raconteur, a much sought after speaker at
the Oxford and Cambridge Unions, prison visitor, and a Quaker.
Sadly he died of a brain haemorrhage on the 28 September 1959
at the tragically young age of 34.
1956 his talents combined when he devised a concert of hilarious
symphonic caricature at the Royal Festival Hall in London.
Foremost composers were commissioned to write some of their
wittiest and most humorous compositions. This was so popular
that in 1958 an additional festival was conceived, this time
it ran for two days.
This CD collection offers golden moments from Desert Island
Discs, One Minute Please (the original title of
Just a Minute) and Saturday Night on the Light,
plus recollections from friends, contemporaries and his widow,
Annetta. Contributors include Ian Hislop, Harry Enfield, John
Dankworth, Flanders and Swann, and even Colin Dexter (who
created Inspector Morse), recalling Hoffnung the schoolmaster.
Sam Wanamaker and Joseph Horowitz remember the Hoffnung Festival
Hall concerts, which featured compositions for vacuum cleaners,
road rammers and a watering can. And, we hear Hoffnung in
his own inimitable words, talking about his life, music and
art... and telling the famous bricklayer story in his Oxford
are numerous interesting anecdotes, including how he first
bought his famous tuba; how he undertook life drawings of
monsters (offering them tea or a bowl of blood); his meeting
with an old lady in an art gallery that was showing his work;
and his daily routine - which involved walking in his garden,
or around his dinning room table, depending on the weather.
you are a fan of his or, like me, knew very little about the
real man behind the humorous illustrations, you should pick
up a copy of this CD. At times this audio biography is heart
warming, at others it is sad, but we are never far away from
a good laugh. How sad that the world was robbed of a true